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Social Planning in Late Colonial and Postcolonial Societies (1920s-1960s)

30-31 May 2013

Workshop

Convener: Valeska Huber (GHIL)

Venue: German Historical Institute London

The idea of ‘planning’ gained prominence from the 1920s on and reached a climax in the 1950s and 1960s. Planning could, of course, refer to all kinds of domains, from urban layout to infrastructure, but also to entire societies or social phenomena such as education, health policies and so forth. Attempts at social planning could be small or large scale; they could be experimental, utopian or contain practical policy recommendations. While planning is an important paradigm in the contemporary history of Europe and an essential element in the historical analysis of modernisation theory and cold war rhetoric, it has not yet been used extensively in colonial and postcolonial history. Yet planning initiatives from the 1920s on link with various attempts by late colonial empires to modernise and develop their colonial possessions. In the 1950s and 1960s, the heyday of the belief in planning coincided with the decolonisation period. It permeated the ideologies of the newly formed states and their main political actors and informed their ideas about how to restructure their societies. By looking at social planning experiments in the colonies and the potential transfer of their results back to the metropoles, the workshop will add to investigations of the colonies as ‘experimental fields’ or even ‘laboratories of modernity’. Furthermore, the workshop has the aim to analyse the decolonisation period of the 1950s and 1960s as a time of intensive social planning through a focus on practical initiatives and experiments. Papers therefore explore specific case studies, which will then be discussed in a broader comparative framework.

Beyond the participants listed on the programme, there is a limited number of places open to academics and postgraduates. If you want to attend, please contact: Valeska Huber (huber(ghi)ghil.ac.uk) or Carole Sterckx (sterckx(ghi)ghil.ac.uk).

Workshop programme (PDF file)

Conference report (PDF file), published in: GHIL Bulletin 35 (2013), Vol 2